Joyce Manor vs. Stage Diving

Read: Alt Press – Joyce Manor shame stage-diver at show

Read: Alt Press – Joyce Manor frontman calls out another stage-diver during show


I’m curious what people think about this.

Is this not similar to what Kathleen Hanna did calling girls to the front?

I happen to think it is.

A lot of people are giving Joyce Manor a lot of shit for being “anti-stage diving” saying things like, “it’s part of the scene and you can’t take it out”, “don’t be in a band if you don’t want this shit to happen” and “JM sucks anyway” – Blah, blah, blah.

But you know what? They’re the band. And they make the rules when they’re on stage. It is a matter of respect (to the band and your fellow concert mates) and personal responsibility. People get hurt and it’s not pretty.

A few years ago, I saw Bayside at Irving Plaza. My friend and I were talking to a girl before their set. She might’ve been 4″10′ and a 100 lbs wet. But she was a huge fan of the band and wanted to see them up close. Once they began, we lost her in the pit and didn’t see her again. That is, until after the show by the stage door. Turns out she dislocated her knee and had to call an ambulance because she couldn’t fucking walk.

Even though it’s unpopular, I give Joyce Manor a lot of credit because not only is it about time someone said something about this, but they’re sticking up for something they believe it despite the status quo or giving in to what everyone else thinks. 9 times out of 10, I guarantee a lot of fans who end up getting hurt in the pit are women – which then discourages them to get up close and be involved in the show. I know because it’s happened to me.

I almost died in a pit about 4 years ago. And this is no exaggeration. I really thought I was going to die. I was probably in the middle of the crowd (not even up close – which now I come to realize that’s probably the safest place you can be: either all the way in the back or all the way up front, on the barricade), I had just turned 20, and I’m short. I think I’m about 5″1′. But my favorite band (Saves The Day) was playing and I felt absolutely compelled to get in there with a bunch of other die-hard fans and be a part of it – so I jumped in. I was fine until a couple songs in and the band picked up the tempo to an older track of theirs that everybody loved. I was pushed back with such force I couldn’t stop it, or get out. I immediately fell backwards and it was worse than a rip current. It wasn’t water I was in, it was people, and my limbs were flailing everywhere beyond my control, bending; I was being crushed. Over the music I screamed for help and held up my hands, hoping someone would pull me out. Lucky for me, someone did. I profusely thanked this angel for saving me, took a deep breath, and after the song ended, I squeezed my way out. I didn’t go in a pit for about 3 years after that happened – out of fear.

I’ve also seen people get hurt crowd surfing. I saw a show at Six Flags my freshman year of high school. Some guy was crowd surfing towards the front and there must have been some miscommunication or something, and he got dropped – hard. Probably from about 5 feet up. It was a hard fall. And I watched him just lay there, unable to do anything. Because what do you do? You can’t reach him, you can’t talk to him or help him get out. I’ve been kicked in the face, pushed and shoved at shows. And yeah, you can say it’s part of the scene and that this shit happens all the time – because it does. But what about the women (and non-“macho” guys) that want to get up close and see their favorite bands? What happens to them? Should they just not come? Sit out and feel non-included their whole life just because of their size? What kind of scene is that where the community you’re part of doesn’t give a shit about your well-being? We should be more friendly, supportive, check on each other and make sure we’re okay.

I’ve also been to shows where the pit/crowd surfing/stage diving experience has been great and not a problem namely, Motion City Soundtrack and The Julie Ruin. The vibe was different. I didn’t feel like I was fighting for air just to stand.

Joyce Manor isn’t even a band I would imagine stage-diving to (at least when it comes to Never Hungover Again). They’re a great band with good music, but the vibe is just not there for that kind of thing. This is a conversation that needs to be had and admire Joyce Manor for sticking to their guns and addressing this issue.

When the band you’re seeing is asking you to do something, whether it’s clapping your hands or requesting you not stage-dive, you should oblige – Especially when it’s something positive and potentially helpful to the show and/or the rest of the audience.

But what do I know? You be the judge.

Building For The Future: GoldieBlox

GoldieBlox

Oh my gosh. Have you guys heard about GoldieBox?! It’s the newest company on the market of building games for girls, with hopes of opening them up to the world of engineering at a young age. These cool inventions also come with a read-a-long book series that follows the tales of protagonist/girl inventor Goldie, as she creates inventions to help her friends. When playing and building with these toys, these little engineers probably don’t even realize is that while they’re having fun, they’re also working on improving spatial skills, engineering principles, and creating self-confidence in problem-solving [GoldieBox].  Plus there’s more than one way to complete a project, so girls don’t feel restricted to one right answer. This is what I’m talking about when I go on about how pop culture can influence society. Toys are part of pop culture!

GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine
GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine

Engineer, founder, and Stanford ’05 graduate Debbie Sterling created a whole line of engineering toys for girls to help inspire them and spark their interest at a young age. How genius! In fact, “she has made it her mission in life to tackle the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math” [Engineer Girl]. The line has been very successful and reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. I had the chance of catching her short interview on ‘CBS This Morning’ and was inspired in the 5-10 minutes Ms. Sterling spoke about her wonderful idea. Drawing from her own personal experiences, while at Stanford she realized how much the engineering field was dominated by men (Female engineers only make up 11% [The Mary Sue]) and when suggested by her high school math teacher that she major in Engineering, Sterling was embarrassed to admit at the time, she didn’t even know what it was. Interestingly enough, she also descends from a line of strong women pioneers as her grandmother was, “one of the first female cartoonists and creator of ‘Mr. Magoo'” [Engineer Girl].

More Than A Princess
More Than A Princess

GoldieBox started out as a successful Kickstarter project in 2012, which then developed into a thriving toy business.  It raised, ” over $285,000 in 30 days…and has been featured in numerous publications such as The Atlantic and Forbes” [Engineer Girl]. Before the Kickstarter project went live, Sterling was told, “‘construction toys for girls don’t sell’ and ‘you can’t fight nature'”, but like all great success stories the people who dared utter those statements were proven wrong. When asked why people love Goldiebox, the response was perfect, “‘I think it’s in part because the passivity of the average girl-marketed toy is frustrating to so many people from all walks of life. We’re not interested in condemning femininity or suggesting that a girl shouldn’t be a princess if she wants to be. We’re about giving girls the freedom to use their entire brains, whether they build a rocket launcher, or a parade float, or a catapult. It’s up to them'” [Intuit Small Business Big Game]. Isn’t that AWESOME?! See this super cool commercial featuring the Beastie Boys’ “Girls“:

As an interesting side note, Sterling/GoldieBlox was recently sued by the Beastie Boys for using this song for their “commercial” without proper licensing [SF Gate]. Granted, I understand that Adam Yauch (a.k.a. MCA), “requested in his will that the Beastie Boys songs never be used in advertising” [GoldieBlox] but this isn’t some heartless company trying to sell beer or cigarettes or cell phones, this is a company that has the potential to change and influence an generation of girls to believe they’re worth more than the bombardment of pink packaged toys they constantly see in every toystore. Something as great as GoldieBlox can help break gender lines for an entire generation. Surely MCA were he alive would’ve realized the honor in contributing to that. Not only did GoldieBox transform a sexist song (namely, the last verse) through empowering lyrics encouraging girls to build things, and besides the fact that hip-hop is a culture primarily BASED on sampling and reappropriation, Adam Horovitz (a.k.a. Ad-Rock) is married to world-renowned feminist, riot grrl pioneer, female advocate and musician Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, The Julie Ruin, and Le Tigre. What a confusing move. I won’t say anything more as I do have great admiration and respect for both The Beastie Boys/Ad-Rock and Kathleen Hanna. But come on. I think the commercial is a great bit and the song was an excellent choice, both catchy and easily recognizable just trying to motivate young girls to believe they can be more than a princess.

Debbie Sterling was actually in the audience of Stanford graduates when Steve Jobs made his famous, now viral Commencement Speech [Huffington Post].  And because of that it should be no surprise that after hearing that speech firsthand, she was been so successful at passionately pursuing the project and tearing down barriers. Sterling has been quoted as saying, “we don’t have a national shortage of princesses, but we do have a national shortage of engineers” [Intuit Small Business Big Game]. I stand by her and her ideas and wish her all the success in the world.

On a personal note, as a young girl I was raised to think outside the princess bubble.  Sure I had Barbies and dolls and played dress-up from time to time. But I was constantly showered in books, encouraged to write, draw and paint, and at the age of 4 or 5 began watching Star Trek Voyager with Captain Kathryn Janeway in command. She served as a positive female role model then and continues to hold that role today in my life as 23-year-old young woman.

I watched the Magic School Bus, Bill Nye The Science Guy, played computer games that taught me musical instruments of the world, how to problem solve, and how to read. I was told that instead of being a cheerleader, I could be my own cheerleader and was actively involved in piano lessons, gymnastics, karate, soccer, basketball, and softball. I was a die-hard Yankees fan at the age of 7 and independently picked up a guitar at 14. Perhaps these are all things not part of a stereotypical girl’s childhood. Maybe it doesn’t even matter if it is or isn’t. What I know is that the way I grew up and the things I did and the fact that I was allowed to follow my interests made me the woman I am today. I think it is important that Ms. Sterling is focusing on trying to open up an area for young girls they didn’t even know existed, and making them feel welcome and inclusive in world that has for so long been dominated by boys. Sterling says, “The biggest challenge is one of alienation and not feeling understood by your peers. It’s important to stick to your guns and maintain your perspective” [Huffington Post]. I believe Sterling also understands that how a girl or any child grows up and what toys they play with/gravitate towards, is the beginning of a lifelong process which helps cultivate interests and can determine the direction of their futures.

Sterling is helping to encourage and inspire an entire female generation that they can excel in fields that have so long seemed out of reach or vacant by their fellow female friends. I can’t wait to see how far GoldieBlox gets and wish them all the best. I hope parents and teachers alike embrace this wonderful new product, along with the future little engineers in hopes that they’ll enjoy it as much as I enjoyed learning about it. The future can sometimes seem bleak but when I hear stories like this, it makes me beam from the inside out. To echo Rosie the Riveter, “We Can Do It!”

“For the past 100 years, construction toys have inspired our boys to be thinkers, builders, and inventors. Our girls deserve the same…I created GoldieBlox because I believe that every girl is more than just a princess” – Debbie Sterling [Intuit Small Business Big Game]